AT&T (NYSE: T) asked the FCC to force a regional carrier in Iowa to provide roaming services at the same rates of a contract between the two companies that expired in December.
The nation's second-largest mobile network operator filed a heavily redacted document explaining iWireless had provided voice and data roaming services at an undisclosed rate from 2008 until Dec. 20, 2015. Negotiations have stalled on a new contract, and AT&T in December asked the FCC to require iWireless to either continue to provide roaming services at the old rates or "make a best and final offer" that reflects commercially reasonable rates.
The FCC's Enforcement Bureau in December directed iWireless to continue to provide roaming services at the established rates subject to a "true-up," allowing the rates to be retroactively adjusted in accordance with a judgment at the conclusion of the proceeding. "Requiring iWireless to continue to provide roaming at these rates while this dispute is pending will essentially preserve the status quo, and will serve the public interest," the FCC said. "We express no view at this juncture on the merits of the parties' dispute."
The Iowa carrier subsequently asked the FCC to review the Enforcement Bureau's directive, saying the organization "does not have the delegated authority to disregard the explicit procedure set forth" in existing FCC roaming rules. AT&T then asked the FCC to reject iWireless' request.
An affiliate of T-Mobile, iWireless in December completed the first phase of its LTE rollout in several Iowa markets. At the time, the regional carrier also touted its roaming partnership with T-Mobile.
The roaming dispute between iWireless and AT&T is one of many to have sprung up in recent months following the FCC's ruling in December 2014 that clarified the agency's data roaming rules. The FCC agreed that when trying to resolve disputes over whether data roaming agreements are "commercially reasonable," it may take into account factors such as retail rates, international roaming rates, MVNO/resale rates and roaming rates charged by other providers.
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